Before we get into the ins and outs of this year’s Super Bowl match up, let’s take a moment to reflect on one of this week’s losers. The San Diego Chargers put up a great fight on Sunday, especially considering the many injuries their offense was dealing with. Phillip Rivers played well, on a knee that will most definitely require surgery this off-season. Antonio Gates was in and out as the game went on, playing on a dislocated toe. And then there was Tomlinson.
LT went to the bench after touching the ball three times on Sunday, and spent the rest of the game on the sidelines, mysteriously watching from behind his tinted visor. And while most Charger fans will probably give LT the benefit of the doubt, the rest of us will ponder on the fact that LT was the most likely of the above mentioned trio to play in Sunday’s game, with a sprained MCL and “knee soreness” as reported at halftime.
Let me say that this blog is only about LT’s legacy. There are plenty of excuses and reasons for LT’s lack of contribution Sunday. There’s the obvious one: he really was way too hurt to play. And then there’s the fact that his backups (Turner and Sproles) have performed pretty well, and maybe their 100% is better than Tomlinson’s 90%.
But none of these will show up on his legacy. So far, LT has established himself as one of fantasy football’s all-time greats. His 2006 season was the best individual season any non-quarterback has ever seen. But as LT himself said in ESPN magazine at the beginning of this season, greatness is measured by Super Bowl victories. And in his first AFC championship game, he sat out while the rest of his team lost courageously.
It doesn’t matter if his riding the pine was the best move for him – or even for the team. What we as sports fans expect of our greatest athletes is that nothing could possibly take them off of the field. During the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game, Phil Simms speculated that this Chargers team had enough youth to return to this level for the next few years. But this is a conference with Brady and P. Manning – these days any year that the Pats and Colts don’t meet in the conference championship feels like an aberration. The Chargers cannot take any chance at a Super Bowl for granted, and if this was LT’s one chance . . . well, his legacy won’t be much of a legacy at all.